Monday, July 10, 2017

Forest Kindergarten

"Forest Kindergarten" is a sort of pre-school (3- to 5-year-olds) common in Germany and Scandinavia. Instead of receiving lessons, the kids mostly run around doing whatever they want, outside as much as possible. In some such programs there is a farm theme, with goats and bit of gardening or apple picking, while others go for a wilderness vibe. In none of them is there any sort of book learning. From a description of a German "Waldkita":
Within a few minutes, the children were spread out over an expanse of at least 10 acres. Some were jumping from boulders; others were dragging logs through marshland. Most were sucking on filthy icicles that had fallen from the eave of a greenhouse. At Robin Hood, the children are allowed to be out of eyesight of their minders, but not out of earshot. “Being secretive is good for child development,” Peters said. But whenever an adult called out “cuckoo,” the children all dutifully returned from whatever dangerous thing they were doing, which on the day I spent with them included climbing at least 10 feet up a tree and sliding unsupervised across a frozen pond.
This sort of program is connected to the old Germanic belief that children should be outside as much as possible, in every sort of weather, and also to Romantic notions of free play and exploration. The first organized programs were created in Germany and Sweden in the early 1900s.

The kids do at least as well in school as kids who spend preschool being forced to sit quietly and do lessons. I just don't understand why we want to make babies act that way.

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